We can argue about what the root causes really are in any catastrophic industrial situation, but the fact remains that human error plays a hugely significant role in the inability to automate out accidents. Add to the already prevalent flaws found in the human condition the problem of an increasingly unskilled workforce in manufacturing, and “competency” becomes a meaningful watchword.
Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced its new UniSim Competency Suite specifically to address operator competency issues, and help prepare them faster through realistic training experiences.
In process industries, in particular, abnormal situations happen so infrequently that even the old guys getting set to retire might not remember what needs to be done in any given circumstance. This is where simulation is playing an increasing role in operator training. This new suite of simulation software combines Honeywell’s experience in process simulation and operator training to help facilities address the ever-growing problem of falling numbers of trained operators. It’s designed to accelerate the time it takes for new operators to get veteran-like experience, enabling them to reach their potential faster.
“In the near future, many operators at industrial plants in developed countries will retire, while process industries in emerging economies will continue to face the challenge of critical skill shortages,” says Ali Raza, vice president and general manager for HPS’s Advanced Solutions business. “The expanded UniSim Competency Suite helps our customers train its workforce faster in a more realistic environment to drive safe, incident-free, efficient startups and ongoing operations.”
UniSim Operations is a dynamic plant simulation system within the software suite that consolidates a lifetime of experience into a process training curriculum. It features realistic process, control and safety systems modeling.
Training is no less important for field operators as it is for DCS console operators, HPS notes, and UniSim 3D Connect addresses this sector of the workforce specifically. It connects to UniSim Operations to provide realistic experiences for field operators through a 3D virtual environment.
Other components of the Competency Suite are UniSim Curriculum, a customizable competency model that aligns and assists in improving critical requisite skills and behaviors; UniSim Tutor, a knowledge capture and propagation tool that teaches and evaluates “what if” reflexes and diagnostic abilities; and UniSim Field View, an interactive, navigable, panoramic view for realistic field operator training.
Taking it to the field
HPS introduced its new UniSim Competency Suite this week at the ARC World Industry Forum in Orlando. Also there this week, the automation supplier talked about its agreement with SNC-Lavalin to jointly offer an operator training solution to improve plant safety and efficiency.
The agreement calls for SNC-Lavalin Global Training and Simulation (GTS) to integrate its FieldOp3D immersive training simulator with HPS’s UniSim Operations training simulation platform to extend simulator training to field operators.
The solution spans many industries, according to Hisham Mahmoud, president of infrastructure at SNC-Lavalin. “We already see the first signs of success, having deployed five operator training simulators to a major client in the phosphate fertilizer industry in North Africa, and having sold our first integrated FieldOp3D-UniSim solution in North America,” he says.
“SNC-Lavalin’s 3D technology allows us to expand and improve our simulation offering beyond the control room into the field by adding a virtual immersive training environment,” adds John Roffel, HPS’s operator competency product director. “The new offering provides a safe learning environment where trainees can navigate a replica of their plant, giving field operators the opportunity to practice tasks essential to their job.”